8-Track: The Sounds of the 70's | Theater Reviews + Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

8-Track: The Sounds of the 70's 

click to enlarge Teddey Brown (foreground), with (left to right) Tess Soltau, Bradley Beahen and Tess Primack, in Pittsburgh CLO's production of 8-TRACK: The Sounds of the 70's. - PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT POLK.
  • Photo courtesy of Matt Polk.
  • Teddey Brown (foreground), with (left to right) Tess Soltau, Bradley Beahen and Tess Primack, in Pittsburgh CLO's production of 8-TRACK: The Sounds of the 70's.

Ah, the '70s -- what a quaint time. Does anyone else remember thinking that at least we'd never see another president as evil as Nixon?

To be honest, I remember the '70s as something I got through rather than enjoyed. Early in my teens, which coincided with the middle of that decade, I left popular culture behind. For me, the '70s were about discovering not the joys of disco, but the joys of Gershwin.

But there I was at the Pittsburgh CLO Cabaret, watching 8-Track: The Sounds of the 70's, a musical revue conceived and directed by Rick Seeber.

It is very much to Seeber's credit that he has avoided narration and a framing device -- the two elements which always sink a musical revue. The audience just wants to hear the songs, and Seeber and company intend to present them as entertainingly as possible.

That they do. With telling but understated choreography by Tonya Phillips Staples and musical direction by the always-fabulous Deana Muro, a cast of four plow through at least 50 1970s-era tunes with polish and buckets of talent. Bradley Beahen, Teddey Brown, Tess Primack and Tess Soltau each possess strong, supple voices, and they certainly know how to sell a song. Every now and again, a slight glazed look plays across their youthful faces, but that's to be expected.

Because -- my God! -- these are some of the worst songs ever written. No wonder I ran screaming into the arms of the Gershwins: "We've Only Just Begun," "Alone Again (Naturally)," "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," "Make It With You," "One Toke Over the Line" ... the hits just keep on comin'.

The song selection seems a salute to middle-of-the-road AM-radio hits, although the two most famous acts from that time, Barbra Streisand and ABBA, are nowhere to be heard. Perhaps Seeber couldn't get the rights to their music.

The performance does, however, include "Convoy," a salute to the CB-radio craze to which, unbelievably, the man seated behind me sang every word. And when everyone in the audience joined in to do the arm gestures for "YMCA," I suddenly felt like I was at a Nuremberg rally. At that point, I was more than ready to leave the 1970s ... again.


8-Track continues through Sept. 27. The Cabaret at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave., Downtown. 412-325-6766 or www.clocabaret.com



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